Rodney Hide has said he will lay a complaint with the Police over Trevor Mallard’s punching Tau Henare, if the Speaker does not refer the issue to the Privileges Committee.
This is a not very subtle form of political blackmail, but it may be effective. Winston Peter’s far less serious “assault” on John Banks was considered by the Privileges Committee in 1997 after all.
If a complaint is laid with the Police, they will have to investigate. And while Mallard would be eligible for diversion, there is a risk they may prosecute.
Now there is a real risk associated with any prosecution. If prosecuted, Mallard would at best get a fine or community service. But the Electoral Act states that if you are convicted of any offence with a greater than two year prison maximum penalty, you automatically lose your seat. And this is regardless of what the actual punishment is.
Mallard would be okay if charged with mere common assault under s196 of the Crimes Act as that has a one year maximum. But “assault with intent to injure” under s193 has a three year maximum and would trigger the Electoral Act.
Now I think that scenario is unlikely but it is not impossible if a complaint is laid with the Police. The most likely outcome is diversion. But does Margaret Wilson want a police investigation into what happened in Parliament?No tag for this post.